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Coping With Loss: Bengals Edition

Related: Patriots vs. Bengals: Fan Notes from the Game

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I feel a little weird writing this week’s latest Coping With Loss article, because to be honest I’m not 100 percent sure that Cincinnati Bengals game counts as an actual loss. In order for a team to lose, there has to be a game, and a team that shows up to said game and compete in it. Saying that the New England Patriots lost on Saturday would be like saying that Mike Tyson’s sparring partner lost on the judge’s scorecards; not a real fight, so not a real result.

But there’s no sense in stopping the out-of-control train now. May as well keep limping on to the finish.

Expected loss. I can’t imagine that there’s anybody out there who actually thought that the Patriots would win this game, so this one doesn’t hurt or come as any surprise. The Bengals were a white-hot team that came into Foxboro and dismantled an ice-cold team without even breaking a sweat, and I don’t think anyone in Patriots Nation even batted an eye.

Draft picks. Yep, that’s right. It’s all about keeping an eye on where the Patriots will be picking in the 2023 draft. And while I’ll never root for this team to lose, the reality is that each loss (of which there are two left, if I had to guess) gets New England one step closer to a top-10 Pick. There’s a lot of work to do this offseason, and high draft capital is going to give them some solid flexibility as they work through their overhaul. I’m going to be writing “Draft Picks” two more times as I have to get more and more creative as I continue to try and spin these losses, so prepare yourselves accordingly.

Josh Uche, Marcus Jones, and Matthew Judon. Bless you all. I’m hanging on by a thread here and you guys make it just that much easier. Thank you for dominating week in and week out, playing your fiddles so well as the ship goes down and everyone around you is scrambling for a life vest.

Two to go. All that stands between us and the offseason is what will likely be two beatdowns at the hands of the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Once those two games are over, we can put this season to bed and never, ever think about any of it again. We can all suck it up for two more games.

At least they keep it interesting. Say what you want about the 2022 Patriots, they’re always finding new, creative ways to lose a game. Very few of the games New England lost this season were complete blowouts, and they have been in position to win four of their eight losses this year — but whereas the Patriots used to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes, they’re the ones making the critical errors at critical times. It might be tough to watch, and waiting around waiting for the inevitable is a slog, but it’s certainly never dull.